I thrive on feedback. I have grown a whole career based on them. Sure, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but I cannot tell you enough the benefits of receiving them. Constructive feedback really helps you in building leadership qualities, getting better at your job and in your overall personality development. However, it’s important to recognise a good one, sit back and contemplate on it, search for some proof and work on them.
It’s not always easy to take them, especially when it’s a tough one. If you are not careful, you can mistake a negative feedback with plain criticism. But feedback, even when it is negative, is positive, because it can help you grow! Criticism on the other hand is at most just hurtful and could just be harmful, as I said if you are not careful. However, be it good or bad, there are ways to use feedback in a constructive way and to your advantage. Here are a few things about feedback I have learnt, some very recently, which are invaluable.
Take it without judgement
There are two ways to get feedback, when we ask for it and most of the time without being asked and when we least expect it. In both the cases, chances are your defenses stand up straight. You think, ‘O so you think you are perfect’. It’s human to share an opinion, pass a comment and give feedback. Don’t judge the giver or the feedback. Just take it graciously and put it aside. Because before we judge, we must first understand the ‘why’, and at this stage, when they are just beginning to articulate the feedback, it’s too early for judging.
Take it with gratitude
Giving feedback takes time and to an extent, courage in the part of the giver. I have learnt (after much trials and tribulations) that just like with a gift, you don’t have to react to it immediately. You just have to say ‘thank you’ and stack them up to open later.
Introspect and find out the truth
Like you would with gifts, sit down, open them one by one and contemplate. Patterns are easily recognisable. It could be about your personality, about the way a job is done or your leadership skills. When you introspect and open your mind to find proof/ truth in the feedback, you can then write them down to follow up or deconstruct further.
Reach out to a person you feel safe to talk about your vulnerabilities and weaknesses (could be even you). Share the feedback you have received to find out if there is more truth in them, whether they seem like they were thought-through. People who really care to see you grow as an individual and as a person will help you in finding out the truth, with you. The trick is of course to listen and not explain.
Recognise a constructive feedback
Usually a constructive feedback is specific – for a task or behavior. It also always points to a direction of improvement. Something that would make a huge difference, for the better, if changed. It’s important to recognise one and find out more. Ask for examples and sometimes hints on how it could have been different.
Knowledge helps in making a compelling plan
Once you have all the information you are seeking about the feedback you’ve received, you can decide if you want to work on it at all. If yes, because you see the positives of it, then you can categorise them into:
- What can be improved immediately?
- What will take time and a plan to improve?
- What cannot be improved at all?
Finally, it’s about you and only you can make this decision.
Feedback is an invaluable input for personal and professional development and we must seek it. But, remember to take feedback as you would a gift.
The best analogy of a feedback I have heard so far is that, it is a gift. And like a gift, you have to receive it with gratitude, without judgement and don’t open them until later. You just stack them up to finally open them one by one, when you are by yourself. You look at the gifts and decide that some are wonderful, some thoughtful and some very useful. But don’t forget in all this that, like gifts, some are just tossed flippantly for the sake of giving. You can look at them and say, ‘Arey ye kya diya!’ and toss it in the bin, equally flippantly or perhaps keep it for later to give it to someone who really needs it.